ALOR SETAR: The Pakatan Harapan-led state government has found unlikely allies in the form of Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives — at least when it comes to choosing the state assembly speaker.
With the 36-seat state assembly evenly split between PH and the opposition, three Umno assemblymen decided to support PH’s choice for speaker — former Kuala Kedah MP Ahmad Kasim.
This enabled Ahmad to secure enough votes to be elected as the new speaker, while PPBM’s Ayer Hangat assemblyman Juhari Bulat was named deputy speaker.
Bandar Baharu assemblyman Norsabrina Mohd Noor said the matter had been discussed with the state and central Umno’s leadership.
“Last night, the final decision was made that we need to support PH’s choice of speaker for the stability of the government.
“So, if we did not support the speaker proposed by the menteri besar, a state election would have to be called after this,” she told FMT after the Kedah state assembly sitting had concluded for the day.
“We are doing this for the sake of the state and Kedahans,” she said.
The other two Umno assemblymen were former state executive councillors — Sungai Tiang assemblyman Suraya Yaacob and Guar Chempedak assemblyman Ku Abd Rahman Ku Ismail.
Norsabrina said the three of them had their own specific strengths, with two of them being scientists and Suraya being a lawyer, to provide effective checks and balances in the state assembly.
“We were also members in the previous government. With our past experience, we can give opinions and provide constructive criticisms.”
PAS assemblyman and opposition leader Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said the party accepted with an open heart the choice of the new speaker.
“We realise we only have 15 seats. And while we had hoped that all 18 opposition representatives would vote for the candidate picked by the opposition, it appears that BN assemblymen have instead chosen the one from PH,” the Kedah PAS deputy commissioner said.
“So you can see today that the one who is collaborating with BN is not PAS. PAS has always been accused of colluding with Umno. That is not true.
“Today, you can see the ones who are colluding with BN is PH.”
Sanusi said this showed that democracy was alive and well.
“The sitting today proceeded smoothly. We were able to elect a speaker and avoid a state election. I feel this is a blessing.”
PAS had previously proposed state commissioner Ahmad Fakhruddin Sheikh Fakhrurazi and Bukit Pinang assemblyman Romani Wan Salim as speaker and deputy speaker respectively.
Sanusi said the party will support actions by the government which benefit the people.
Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir thanked BN assemblymen if they had actually thrown their support behind the government in choosing the speaker.
He said the speaker was elected through balloting and he could not say who voted in favour.
“The votes could have come from PAS. Who knows?”
However, he admitted that some negotiations had taken place “with old friends”.
The Kedah state assembly sitting will resume on Aug 13.